Evaluation of cosmetic product exposures reported to the Milan Poison Control Centre, Italy from 2005 to 2010
Introduction: To the average consumer, "cosmetics" are not considered to cause damage to human health under normal conditions of use. Thus, cosmetic "safety" does not require any particular attention to the possibility that cosmetics may result in a toxic exposure, especially for children. Poison Control Centres (PCCs) provide specialized and rapid information for consumers and health professionals to ensure management of events related to the exposures to different agents, including Cosmetics. Poison Control Centres also represent a unique source of information to investigate the frequency and type of exposures to cosmetic and the related risks. Objective: An analysis of cases concerning human exposures to cosmetics collected from 2005 to 2010 by the PCC at the Ospedale Niguarda Ca' Granda (Milan, Italy) was performed. Results: During this period, 11 322 human exposure cases related to cosmetics were collected accounting for 4.5% of the total human clinical cases. Almost, all the requests for assistance came from consumers (53%) and hospitals (40%). The most frequently reported site of exposure was the consumer's own residence (94%). The exposures mainly involved children younger than 4 years (77%). No difference in gender distribution was observed (female 49%, male 51%). Almost, all of the exposures were unintentional (94%). Intentional exposures, mainly related to suicide attempts and accounted for 6% of cases involving persons aged more than 12 years. Personal hygiene products (30%), perfumes and hair care products (excluding hair dyes) (both 13%) were the most frequently involved categories. Symptoms were present only in 26% of the exposures and were mostly gastrointestinal (46%). Most of the cases were managed at home (43%) whereas hospital intervention was required in 38%. Conclusion: Since the exposure frequency seems more likely to reflect product availability and accessibility to ingestors, our results call for closer attention to this type of hazard, especially for children younger than 4 years of age.